Opioid Addiction – The Pandemic within a Pandemic

Since the beginning of the pandemic, drug overdoses have been on the rise across the U.S. In May of this year, Channel 7 News reported that deadly drug overdoses in South Carolina took the lives of over 1,200 people in 2020. Some people are referring to it as the “pandemic within a pandemic”. The BBC Documentary, “Addicted: America’s Opioid Crisis provides some shocking statistics (link provided at the end of this article):

  • Opioids kill more people than any other drug on the market. It is a drug that can condemn a person to a life of addiction after a single week of use.
  • 1 in 8 American children live with a parent who suffers from a substance abuse disorder,
  • Every 15 minutes, a baby in America is born suffering from opioid withdrawal.
  • Opioids kill more people than any other drug on the market. It is a drug that can condemn a person to a life of addiction after a single week of use.

What are Opioids?

Opioids are a class of drugs naturally found in the opium poppy plant. The word comes from Greek, “opion” — poppy juice, from “opos” meaning juice. Prescription drugs can also be made in labs using the same chemical structure as opium from the plant.
Doctors and dentists often prescribe opioids to treat pain. Also, they may write prescriptions for them to treat coughing and diarrhea. Some people use them for non-medical reasons because it can make them feel very relaxed and “high”.
Here are some more facts from the NIH:
Opioids are highly addictive, and overdoses and death are common. As mentioned above, a person can become addicted in as short of time as one week. Heroin is one of the world’s most dangerous opioids. Heroin enters the brain rapidly and binds to opioid receptors on cells located in many areas. These receptors especially involve feelings of pain and pleasure and control heart rate, sleeping, and breathing.

Common Drug Names and Brand Names of Opioids

  • OxyContin.
  • Roxicodone.
  • Oxecta.
  • Oxaydo.
  • Xtampza ER.
  • Percodan.
  • Targiniq.
  • Xartemis XR.

Opioid Drug Addiction is Not Selective

When you think of drug addiction, you might think of the drug addict in the street doing anything they can for their next fix. However, opioids have become so broadly prescribed by doctors and dentists for pain relief that anyone can become addicted. I know of someone who recently had a tooth extraction. The doctor prescribed a week’s worth of a “pain killer.” When she asked the dental assistant what type of pain killer it was, the assistant did not know. At the druggist, she found out it was an opioid drug and declined the prescription. She found that a much milder and nonaddictive drug was all she needed until the pain subsided 24 hours later. But how many people ask what is in their medical prescription and if it is addictive?!

Alternatives to Opioid Pain Relievers

Chiropractic Treatments

Pain is a message system that tells you that something is wrong with your body. Pain killers mask the pain, but they do not remedy the problem. A chiropractic adjustment is a pain-relieving procedure. It works by aligning and correcting physical abnormal deviations or misalignments that cause pain to the individual. For example, a person has just been in an auto accident. Not only has this left their neck out of alignment, but also the stress affected other areas of the spine as well. If any part of the spine is out of alignment, you can experience pain in other parts of the body. We need to correct the misalignment to resolve the pain! Visit our website for more information on our chiropractic services.

Physical Therapy

Many patients have injuries, disabilities, or other health conditions that need treatment. For example, a person has had a car accident that has left them disabled to one degree or another. Similarly, someone could be recovering from a surgery or sports accident. A Physical Therapist examines each patient and develops a treatment plan tailored to each person’s needs. They train to be experts in improving mobility and restoring function to the body. Physical Therapists can help with any issues of mobility someone may have with their body. Visit our website for more information about our physical therapy services.


Magnesium is becoming more known as a natural solution to pain management. Research has shown magnesium to be beneficial in patients suffering from nerve damage pain. It has also relieved headaches and acute migraine attacks. In addition, magnesium therapy has been effective in alleviating dysmenorrhea, headaches, and acute migraine attacks.

Heat and Ice Treatment


Ice reduces blood flow to the injured area, which reduces pain, swelling, and inflammation.
Use ice on:

  • Injuries you sustained in the last 24 hours.
  • Areas that are swollen, inflamed, or bruised.
  • Recently strained, pulled, or sprained muscle and joints that are swollen and warm to the touch.
  • Muscles to relieve wear and tear on the body after a workout.


Heat increases blood flow, decreases muscle spasms, and increases range of motion to reduce joint and muscle pain. For the best results, use a warm temperature, not hot. Hot temperatures can burn your skin. The length of time you apply heat depends on the injury. For example, you may want to use heat for 15-20 minutes for minor back pain.

Types of Heat

There are two types of heat you can apply — moist heat and dry heat.
Use heat on:

  • Injuries (once any bleeding/swelling has stopped — usually after 24 to 48 hours.)
  • Arthritis and other issues that cause joint stiffness.
  • Chronic aches and muscle spasms
  • Sore muscles to stimulate blood flow before a workout.

Here are some heat options:

  • Heat wraps: A heat wrap wraps around the lower back and waist. You can wear it against the skin under clothing, which can be more convenient if you have to move around.
  • A hot bath, hot tub, sauna, steam bath: These methods help reduce muscle spasms and pain. They also help one relax, which can help reduce pain.
  • Hot water bottle: Hot water bottles can stay warm for 20 to 30 minutes.
  • Heated gel packs: You can usually heat gel packs in either hot water or microwaves. They tend to say warm for about 30 minutes.
  • Electric heating pad: Electric heating pads are dry heat and therefore can dehydrate the skin. But their advantage is that when plugged in, they maintain a constant heat level and are convenient.

CAUTION! DO NOT apply HEAT when there is swelling! The reason is that when the body is injured, it increases fluid and white blood cells into the injured area. If you apply heat to the swelled area, it will increase the fluid even more into the injured area, which will cause more swelling and pain.

Final Words

Opioid drugs are highly addictive! We advise seeking out alternatives before turning to opioid medications for pain relief. Here at Carolina Rehab and Physical Medicine Center, we provide natural solutions that do not create an addiction. Our solutions address and treat the pain rather than masking the pain. Contact us and schedule a consultation.
Dr. J. Craig Strickland, DC
Carolina Rehab & Physical Medicine Center

We give patients a better overall lifestyle rather than treating one condition at a time so they can live happier, healthier lives. Call us for a complimentary consultation.
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